US retail giant Best Buy has vowed to take on HMV and GAME with the opening of its first UK store tomorrow.
The chain’s first UK shop is based in Thurrock, Essex and has been opened early for the Bank Holiday weekend.
Best Buy Thurrock boasts a huge area dedicated to games – complete with new and pre-owned games, specialist staff, own-brand peripherals and even a gaming room.
And entertainment boss Marc Spence told MCV that Best Buy’s set-up is far superior to anything the specialists offer: “We have a range that will match or beat anybody in this space,” he said.
“We will be competitive in price. We have pre-owned. And we have a demonstration area that our competitors won’t be able to manage. This is particularly key as we move towards the motion capture technology, such as Natal and Move. You need to be able to demonstrate this tech.
“Consumers said they’d been let down by our rivals when it comes to experiencing games.
“We also have own-brand peripherals. It is a limited number of SKUs initially, but that will grow dramatically.
“I believe we have created something in gaming that’s world class. Entertainment is an integral part of our business and we want to be famous for it.”
Four more stores will be open in Liverpool, Bristol, Surrey and the West Midlands by the end of May – and Best Buy hopes to have ten stores in the UK by the end of 2010. The firm says it will have at least 80 UK outlets by 2015, creating up to 8,000 new jobs.
“Best Buy believes it can add value to the UK retail sector and help grow it,” said Spence.
One of the key parts of Best Buy’s proposition is its experiential elements.
The firm boasts a large demonstration area for games in-store, featuring high definition TVs, and a gaming room, which can house 18 rated titles.
And the company hopes producers will look to demonstrate their games pre-release, with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony already expressing interest in the proposition.
“If you have a big product coming out, we would like to invite special gamers, whether it is through the internet or just good customers of ours, so they can play say, your latest Modern Warfare pre-release,” said Spence.
“We want to invite the producers of the games into our stores early and create a mini-E3 for them to showcase their games in the best environment.
“Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have all been in to the store, been in the gaming room, and they all have plans on how to use that moving forwards.”
Pre-owned is also a key part of Best Buy’s offer. Consumers can trade-in their games against anything in-store, such as a Blu-ray disc or a TV, and vice versa.
“Pre-owned is an important part of the UK market, so it has to play a part of our offering,” said head of entertainment Marc Spence.
“What will it be in terms of share of our business? I have no idea. It is important to the UK consumers so it has to be important to Best Buy.”
Best Buy’s entry in to the UK market is in contrast to recent developments at retail, with news of regular store closures. Last week, UK giant GAME said it would shut over 127 stores by 2013.